Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, UOG; Director & PI, Anand Lab, GIER; University of Guelph (UOG); Guelph Institute for Environmental Research (GIER)
Professor - Community & Ecosystems Ecology; National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCBS-TIFR)
Prashnath N Srinivas
Assistant Director Research; Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bengaluru
In policy development and implementation, different frameworks are used simultaneously by policy makers, scientists, and other stakeholders to address environmental and ecological issues. Distinct frameworks could invoke different expectations in terms of valuations, trade-offs and therefore decision
making. There is also a disconnect between representation of ecosystem values and decision making across sectors. An emphasis on data and counting has led to inappropriately weighted valuations where 'easy-to- count' parameters are weighted more, and marginalized voices directly impacted by ecosystem valuations are ignored. Concurrently, there is a lack of proper understanding of the value of the natural world and the future impacts of action or inaction. There is also a lack of economical solutions for these impacts, and existing communication fails to articulate in a way that makes the impact significant to each individual and their lives directly. This evokes a lack of social responsibility and empathy that has led to limited or narrow views of ecosystems and sector-specific valuations. All these issues result in further environmental degradation leading to socioeconomic and ecological disparity that impacts the health of humans and the natural world, natural property, climate breakdown, species loss, and crises such as pandemics.
To address these issues, we need to develop next- generation valuation methodologies that ensure the values and interests of local communities as well as non- human communities. We must ensure that future generations are properly represented, and we need to understand how ecosystem valuations are used to shape policy decision making in a broad range of contexts and scales. We must understand how to use this information to advance human development in India through innovation and development of systems while reducing the negative impact on our ecosystems. We also need to understand how to correctly value the natural world, including socioeconomic valuation and a valuation language that works across social and economic strata. We must find language to communicate to people about the drastic drop in quality of life and planetary life support systems and how it impacts communities, industry, and wildlife, with a special focus on marginalised and disenfranchised communities, common or shared spaces in urban and rural areas, and varied habitats. We must seek to impact social behaviour on a large scale and enable better decision making at every level about the use of bioresources for industry and research. All these factors should be coupled with human behaviour studies to understand social learning and social norms.
1. Collate data in a case-study approach on the provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural ecosystem services provided in selected regions.
2. Engage in sector level discussions to define what types of ecosystem valuations are being used or envisioned by public policy, commercial firms, and financial structures at local (village) community- levels, using locally available/historical knowledge where data is sparse.
3. Define the community-level demands for ecosystem services and behaviours associated with their use, and costs for their loss.
4. Identify behavioural indicators (i.e., actions) among these sectors (social norms, social learning, incentives/utilities, etc.) that promote the ecosystem service paradigm.
5. Establish a cross-sectoral framework of criteria for ecosystem valuation that leverages positive behavioural actions and factors to be implemented in considerations by decision makers.
This project can:
1. establish tangible criteria to inform businesses and decision makers.
2. involve ecosystem services considerations in policy and business decisions.
3. provide a framework that integrates the viewpoints and values from different sectors.
4. initialize a language for educators and the public at large to discuss ecosystem services and their value.
5. provide evidence for environmental and ecological decisions made at the legal and policy levels.
6. enhance dialogue and understanding between sectors regarding ecosystem services.
7. provide valuation of our ecosystems for global financing.